THE ATTENDANT: Sharks' minor league team staff member providing hidden inspiration in successful year

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- His role on the San Jose Sharks' minor league hockey team isn't one casual fans notice on game day.

But the guy they call 'Mo' has helped inspire the San Jose Barracuda, is heading back to the Calder Cup Playoffs.

In their fourth full season in the American Hockey League, the team attributes their successes in part to a very special member of the Cuda.

"He's a cheerleader. He helps out in the locker room. But I think his main job here is to keep the guys loose. He's sort of a distraction, in a good way. It's a way for the guys to forget what's going on for a little bit. They kind of have fun with him and play around with him. He keeps everything loose around here," SJ Barracuda Coach Roy Sommer, Mo's father, said.

Marley "Mo" Sommer is the locker room attendant for the San Jose Barracuda.

From picking up the gear, to folding the jerseys, Mo helps make sure everything is in order.

He has been involved with the San Jose Sharks organization since his dad joined the minor league staff more than two decades ago.

"When Mo was born, he was born with Down Syndrome," Coach Sommer said. "Later on, he started having some personalities and different characteristics than a kid with Down Syndrome. Actually, when I started coaching with the Sharks 23 years ago, we brought him to Stanford and he was diagnosed with Autism."

But that has not taken away Mo's love for sports and hockey.

From the moment he first stepped in the locker room, he was accepted by all players with open arms.

"He's part of the American Hockey League," Coach Sommer said.

"It's different a little bit, but we treat him like a brother," Barracuda Goalie Antoine Bibeau said. "He's great. We have some talks with him and he's a funny guy. We always have a great time when he's around." Bibeau

"At first he kind of takes a while to remember you or learn your nickname, but once he knows you, it's awesome," Barracuda Defenseman Nick DeSimone said. "He walks in the room every day and no matter if you're having a good day or a bad day, he's a guy that will put a smile on your face every morning." Desimone said.

After morning practice on game days, it's off to Solar4America Ice where he puts in his daily treadmill work, 65 minutes every time.

Like everything Mo does in life, he is always consistent.

"He's very regimented," Coach Sommer said. "He has certain things that he does every day. He's super organized. When he hangs the jersey's up, they're always an inch a part. When the towels are folded, the corners are always together. It may take him awhile, but everything is perfect. So he has a little OCD in him too."

His quirks are what make Mo, Mo.

He works through his days with a smile on his face and not a care in the world, just like anyone else.

"To me, he's just a Mo," Coach Sommer said. "Without this, I don't know what he would do. I actually think without this, he would be lost. Anyone who has a kids with special needs knows they have to be a part of things."

When he's not at the rink, Mo is part of Greater Opportunities in San Jose, an organization that provides services to those living with developmental disabilities.

Following practice, his workout and school, Mo heads to the SAP Center for the game where he always has the best seats in the house.

"He was invited into the Sharks organization, they've been unbelievable with him," Coach Sommer said. "He travels on the bus with me, sometimes he'll even fly and go on all the road trips. He knows more people around this arena than I do. He doesn't have a pass, he just walks around wherever he wants to go. He's part of things around here."

The 2018-2019 season has been good to San Jose.

But no matter how much success there is, Mo always wants to cheer on a win.

"Sometimes things don't go our way, but there's worst things," Bibeau said. "At the end of the day, it's just a game and you just have to see the big picture. He helps the boys do that."

"It's obviously a long year and you're going to have your ups and downs," DeSimone said. "He's always the first guy in the locker room after a loss and he'll let us know. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes you feel bad you let him down."

On Friday night, the Cuda did not disappoint.

He danced to his favorite song 'Cotton Eyed Joe', and celebrated three goals in a San Jose win. It was all smiles for Mo.

As he walked back from his seat, the moment of celebration between father and son showed there is more to this relationship than what meets the eye.

"He's my best friend," Coach Sommer said. "I don't look at him as a person that has a disability, I just look at him as a fun loving kid."

To end the day, Mo walked off into the night with his hands in the air after another Barracuda win.
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